Mechanisms of migration control continue to consign migrants upon their arrival to sectors of the economy where there is a demand for racialized and exploitable migrant labour.
As scholars have remarked on several occasions, border controls and visa-regimes do not prevent people from moving from their countries of origin nor from reaching the EU (Andreas and Snyder, 2000; Mezzadra and Rigo, 2003). Rather, they increase undocumented modes of travel, the involvement of trafficking networks and profit for third parties (Koslowski, 2001; Andrijasevic, 2003). Furthermore, restrictive residency and labour regulations throughout the EU restrain the social and labour mobility of migrants and fix them to an exploitative, illogical system.
As part of our research into this issue, we met with Sebastian Aguirre, a human rights activist and theatre practitioner from the Chilean refugee diaspora living in the UK. He runs Actors For Human Rights (AFHR), a project at Ice&Fire theatre which uses documentary and verbatim theatre to engage a variety of audiences across the UK on human rights issues.
In this video, Sebastian explains the asylum-seeking process to us using a creative exercise. We hear about a system in UK that is harrowing, shocking and disturbing. But we also hear about human beings who are showing remarkable resilience and dignity despite being thrown into a system which is arduous, deliberately complicated, and often incredibly lengthy.
Completing this film in April 2021, we note additional precarity faced by asylum seekers as the UK government makes changes to asylum law through the new Sovereign Borders bill.